No 8. Wire Motorcycles is named after the thick fencing wire that embodies the ‘can do – make do’ mentality New Zealand was built on. As one of the most far-flung reaches of the British Empire, early settlers in the land of hobbits found themselves having to improvise their way around everyday problems that couldn’t be solved with a ready-made product and stack of cash like back in the mother country. And it’s that innovative attitude that Colin, the Kiwi ex-patriot head of No. 8, aspires to. Heading a one-man shop based in Missoula, Montana, Colin works on all manner of motorcycles. In recent months he’s turned his hand to the diminutive GN125, a R90/6 bobber, KZ550 tracker, a passing Goldwing tourer and even a Polaris snowmobile. But most of his time has been spent lavished on this curious Honda CL350 scrambler.
Unless you’re a recovering hibernation addict, it will not surprise you to hear that the bike style de jour is the oh-so-hot scrambler. With Ducati having thrown their hat into the (dirt) ring with a new model late last year and BMW looking to follow suit soon, it seems the world’s bike buying population has developed a real taste for dust. But what if you wanted something a little more trick? Something that said more ‘you’ than ‘me too’? Well then, you’d probably be in the market for something like this…
Portugal’s Maria Motorcycles has a glowing reputation for building quality custom motorcycles that leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of perfection. So it was no surprise when they got a call from a Triumph Bonneville aficionado who had a 2001 model he wanted built to scrambler spec. So confident was the owner, he gave Maria no design brief but having previously built a Spitfire-themed Bonnie the boys had the bright idea to again follow the World War II angle. Only this time with something from the other side of the Channel, a German-themed military spec vehicle that goes by the name of Luther.
Not too long ago The GasBox were featured on these pages when their BMW R80 was 3rd in Pipeburn’s 2014 Bike of the Year Awards, so it’s fair to say they can build one hell of a bike. But pinning down owner Jesse Bassett’s style isn’t easy. Take this 1974 Norton Commando 850. It’s neither a custom Café Racer nor a Concours d’Elegance build due to the modifications; but it, like all of Jesse’s builds, are as close to perfection as you can get. The again, maybe that’s his style.
Head of Italian workshop Matteucci Garage, Marco Matteucci, is adamant he’s not a mechanic. ‘I’m not even close, I wouldn’t offend the category’ he insists. Instead he comes to motorcycles from a different background, as a graphic designer and advertising photographer with over 20 years experience in the industry. And it shows, with an impressive attention to detail and immaculate fit and finish on his latest build, a Honda XL600LM he’s dubbed ‘True Blood’. While he may not be a mechanic, Marco certainly built one of the most head-turning builds Pipeburn has featured this year.
Stereotypes are dangerous things. When you get an artist from New York City send you pictures of his ride, you expect perhaps a Vespa. Or a Segway. Or, god forbid, a fixie. Well Nick van Woert not only owns this radical 1991 Yamaha XT600, he built the thing with his own hands. Stereotype destroyed. And speaking of destruction, a friend has given the bike the nickname “Woert Hog” an homage to both Nick’s name and another close quarter’s machine of demolition, the A-10 Thunderbolt Warthog.
The Scrambler is my favourite of the retro classic line up. It’s strikingly good-looking, reliable as any other Triumph and the engine has far more character than the standard 360-degree powerplant offered by Hinckley. It’s an ideal everyday ride, for around town or even some light off road work. And that’s how this custom started, when Spanish workshop Macco Motors were approached by a client who wanted to customize his 2013 Triumph Scrambler. The owner, Gonzalo, had been riding the motorcycle around the rural outskirts of Barcelona for the last two years, but he wanted something more than the standard offering from Triumph. “The idea was to build something simple and with a strong look at the same time.” the guys from Macco say. And after some research and some clever modifications, I think they’ve nailed it.
There’s not many things in the custom bike scene that instantly prove a builder has big cojones. So it’s hard to argue with someone who picks to build up a renown ugly duckling, combines five different styles in the design and then rolls out a gorgeous all-purpose machine with no front brake to speak of. Welcome to the world of Vida Bandida Motocicletas from the picturesque city of Córdoba, Argentina, in the foothills of the Sierras Chicas and on the banks of the majestic Suquía River. This is where they tossed aside the idea of a Honda CB, detoured around the fabled Kawasaki Z’s and picked the late to the party 4 stroke of the decade, a 1978 Suzuki GS400 from which they’d fashion something truly special.
It’d be over five years ago that I first saw a café’d Yamaha XV. It was the same British racing green model that you’ve probably all seen by now, planted in a European backstreet across some scattered fallen leaves. Something in the back of my mind clicked, thinking it was a great reshaping of a forgotten middleweight cruiser. That was the last one I saw for a while but now, years later, it seems that they’ve been popping up with increasing regularity and with an increasing level of fit and finish. Heading up this accelerando of quality builds is Hageman MC in Tampa, Florida, who have wheeled out this scrambler-inspired 1981 XV920R.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
It was once a basic Honda 650 Dominator, now the bike before you is a certifiable scrambler beast, with the smile of a Dakar racer to prove it. If there is a legitimate gripe some motorcyclists have of the custom industry it is that while many of the bikes look great, they in fact ride worse than the standard item, sometimes they’re just downright dangerous. But the truth is, very few custom bikes are ever subjected to the sorts of tests a manufacturer puts their machines through. For a custom bike shop what better way to test your abilities than to build a bike for someone who can push it to its limits, a professional racer. For Estonia’s Renard Speed Shop this was never going to be a problem, the 4th placed bike builders from our 2014 Bike of the Year Award, have a reputation for absolute quality and this scrambler for a professional Dakar racer only raises the bar.